The average person now changes jobs twelve times over the course of his or her career, spending five years in each role on average.

And while that may sound like a short amount of time, in today’s knowledge economy, even after just a few years at a company, the average employee will have amassed a wealth of critical experience-based knowledge that, if lost, can impact company performance.

The challenge is, with tenures becoming ever shorter and job skills becoming ever more specialized, most companies won’t know what expertise they’ve lost until after an employee leaves.

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), there are four areas in particular where businesses feel the most pain from expert departures:

  • Relationships – your experts know who the other experts are, as well as when to use them.
  • Reputation – customers may doubt your company’s capabilities if their experience with a newer employee doesn’t compare to their experience with your former employee.
  • Re-work – the incoming replacement has to spend time learning things the departing employee already knew (regardless of how much new knowledge that new employee brings).
  • Regeneration – innovation is often built on years of experience and expertise with a particular product or service, so losing seasoned employees can impact the development of new ideas.

After interviewing dozens of CTOs, CIOs, and top HR managers, HBR found that the cost associated with losing subject matter experts could be estimated at up to 20 times higher than typical recruitment and training costs.

Let that sink in a minute.

Nearly two-thirds of companies have little to no formal offboarding process, which means organizations that are taking the steps to protect their institutional knowledge from walking out the door have a marked advantage over the competition. And while capturing employee knowledge from offboarding employees should be part of a wider, holistic offboarding process, successful companies often begin to tackle the transfer of expert knowledge before an employee ever puts in his notice.

Below, we share tips for transferring important expertise both before and after an employee gives notice that he’s leaving your company.

4 Tips For Transferring Knowledge From Departing Employees

 

Prior To Offboarding

Incentivize the sharing of shortcuts, solutions and other hacks

Soft information can be used to help others work more efficiently, make better decisions, and troubleshoot similar problems. Since the small stuff is often overshadowed by bigger problems, it pays to incentivize this type of sharing among all employees, all the time.

Make it easier with video:

We’ve all seen the email with 17 bullet points and half a dozen screenshots meant to describe a useful solution to a routine problem. However, that kind of documentation is a pain to produce — but recording a brief walkthrough video can be significantly faster (and is more likely to be watched). An employee can simply record their screen and themselves presenting the hack, making it easy for others to absorb the information and strategies in a fraction of the time it would take to write it all down and take screenshots.

Enable knowledge sharing everywhere

Often in larger organizations (and increasingly, in midsize companies as well), the skills and knowledge used in any one position may overlap with those in other jobs located across the country or around the world. Ideally, you don’t want employees reinventing solutions to problems that your people in other offices have already solved — as such, you want to embrace knowledge sharing systems that support social learning and are searchable and accessible from any device at any time, anywhere in the world.

Make it easier with video:

You’ll have greater success getting employees to spend a few minutes recording and sharing a video tutorial for a new process or system than asking them to document it all in writing (especially when some members of the team may feel less-than-fluent in a common language). An enterprise video platform like Panopto makes it easy for anyone to not only record bits of knowledge at any time, but also to share them and make that knowledge searchable. Panopto’s Smart Search technology makes every word spoken and every word shown on the screen in a video searchable as soon as it’s uploaded to your video content management system.

Related Reading: Let Your Experts Retire — Not Their Expertise

 

During Employee Offboarding

Have your expert create learning paths to capture important processes

A learning path is a specific kind of microlearning intended to help newer employees (or someone new to a particular role) become proficient in specific skills sets by breaking the training down into short bits of information presented in an ordered sequence. Ideally, creating a learning path should be guided by an organizational process that will be an easy enough for an outgoing employee to follow, and produce an effective training course tailored for the next person in the role.

Make it easier with video:

Video can make quick work of capturing learning paths, whether you want to break them into shorter videos and structure them in a playlist, or simply record one longer video and add chapters. Panopto’s video platform is designed for structured learning, so it automatically creates a table of contents, which lets employees record longer video training modules, for fast and fluid information transfer tasks during their offboarding. And because Panopto makes every word spoken and shown in each recording searchable, new employees will be able to instantly find and fast forward to specific details as needed, even in longer videos.

Watch how we transfer knowledge from offboarding employees at Panopto:

 

Have your expert share advice for the next person in his position

This is a quick and easy step that can capture essential knowledge that is typically missed in the process of documenting processes and hard, technical skills required for a role. Interview departing employees about the knowledge they would share with the people that will be taking over for them. Ask questions such as the following:

  • What are three things you have learned that you wish you had known when you started your job?
  • What is the biggest challenge your replacement will face? What advice would you give them?
  • What are two initiatives you are most proud of? What makes them effective?

Make it easier with video:

You could ask your departing employee to complete a written questionnaire. Or you could simply record video of all or part of your face-to-face offboarding interview, and use some of that time to ask short follow-up questions to dig deeper and get more information on an important point. You’ll get more honest answers from the employee on the spot and it will leave more time for the employee to wrap up other critical projects.

Interested in Supporting Employee Offboarding Processes with Video?

Panopto’s end-to-end enterprise video platform makes recording, editing, sharing, and searching video simple, which means capturing and transferring institutional knowledge can be easier than ever. Contact our team to request a free 30 day trial of Panopto and learn how it can support your organization.

Published: November 03, 2017